NEX-5N Review

Published at Sun, 2011-09-18, 13:32

On Friday, 9th I got my Sony NEX-5N (the black one) and on Saturday last week my LA-EA1 (Alpha-Mount to E-Mount adapter) was delivered. I ordered the NEX without lenses because my father and I have a nice selection of high quality Alpha-Mount lenses. So on Saturday I started to play a bit with the NEX.

To make one thing clear: I have an A850 and love it for taking pictures. But I wanted to start to also shoot some video so I bought the NEX-5N. For video handling wasn’t a big issue for me because a camera – especially without stabilization (no stabilized lens yet) – is mostly used on a tripod, a shoulder rig or such stuff. As a foto camera I would only use the NEX if I can’t take the A850 for some reason. So I’m not going to write too much about photographing with the NEX here.

Video quality


I only want to write about some aspects here and let the videos speak for themselves.

The video quality is very nice and I was a bit overwhelmed when I looked at my first footage shot with the NEX-5N:

NEX-5N – First Shots

The Quality in higher ISO modes is as I expected. ISO 1600 seems usable, ISO 3200 and above is very noisy.

A issue brought by all the CMOS sensor cameras – rolling shutter – also can be found on the NEX. But by now I didn’t really had bad aliasing or moire I saw on the footage. But maybe I shot the wrong stuff for this effects.

NEX-5N – Tests and Handling

On Friday “The Digital Visual” published an article about cinematic picture profiles which may be interested for all wanting the NEX for shooting video: The Sony NEX-5N Gets Cinematic!

Sound

The NEX is a photo camera with video as a goody. This can be seen in the sound section. No external mic in via trs connectors. No headphone jack. And then there is the clicking issue which appears when moving fast. In the video you can hear this annoying click sound which comes from the camer, because it’s also hearable without a lens. All in all an external sound recorder is the best way for getting sound for your videos shot on the NEX.

Handling

The handling of the NEX-5N is ok for it’s size. All important controls (important for me) are reachable via direct keys or user configurable keys. With the new generation of cameras Sony learned their lesson and gave us users full manual control also in video mode.

In the video I scroll a bit through the menus to show the options available. The only thing I miss in custom menu configuration is video quality selection.

Some thoughts about electronic viewfinding

While writing this lines it was 5:30am and I was sitting outside to do astro and sunrise timelapses and a bit video. I use my A850 as my main cam and have my NEX-5N and the A55v from my uncle to play a bit.

What annoys me most a both the NEX-5N and the A55v is to not be able to easily setup astro shots. For this the electronic viewfinding technologies are absolutely not prepared. With the clear (non-noisy) A850 viewfinder it’s much nicer to shoot astro photographs.

For daily use the A55 Viewfinder is Ok, as long as you don’t have to wear glases. My father had problems using the A55 Viewfinder. The Monitor of the A55 and the NEX are Ok as long as there isn’t to much sunlight shining in. For this reason I made a cheap and simple sunscreen for the NEX as you can see in the photos. But all in all I like the LCD of the NEX and the A55 for filming.

Conclusion

The NEX-5N is a nice camera which gives Sony users a cheap possibility to start making videos. The overall video quality is very good and issues like aliasing are a general problem of photo cameras used for video. If the NEX-VG20 had a sensor designed for video it may have been the better choice but it has the same sensor like the NEX-5N. The sound of the internal microphones isn’t usable but the best way for HDSLRs filming and sound seems to be an external recorder anyhow.

So in it’s price class the NEX-5N is a good way to go for everyone with Sony lenses. If the price isn’t the problem the NEX-FS100 may be an alternative because of it’s real video sensor.

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Comments

Thu, 2011-09-29, 18:23 wrote Prasad

Nice blog and nice review! The video you made with NEX 5n is awesome. Also the test and handling video is helpful. How much of a problem was the overheating issue for you? I want to start making videos too. But at the moment I am quite confused whether to go for the NEX 5n or play it safe with the GH2 or better wait for Canon. Just waiting for the NEX 5n hype settles down and true opinions come out. What did you use for editing and what was your workflow. I have never made a video before, so I am pretty naive in this field. Looking forward to your next post!

Sat, 2011-10-01, 16:32 wrote ingmar

Hello prasad. I’m going to post something about my workflow the next days. My newest post about the NEX-5N (http://s.irieger.net/b16) covers the overheating issue in an unscientific way.

My workflow in a short sentence: Im cutting with Final Cut Pro X and make FCPX-conform MOVs with the help of ffmpeg and a little script i wrote (https://github.com/irieger/mts2mov).

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